Trudy Shipp's husband collects Corvettes, so he probably doesn't have room to complain about the hobby that has taken over his wife's closet ...

Instead of designer shoes by the dozen and racks of spangled gowns, Trudy has piles and piles of fabric in every pattern imaginable for the passion that she indulges in every Tuesday afternoon.

Like most members of the Gone to Pieces quilting club, she prefers not to confess how many miles of fabric she's purchased over the years. "Let's just say that my husband thinks I keep making the same quilt again and again," she says with a wink.

Eager to share their love for adding a little more warmth to life, Trudy and 30 other members of Gone to Pieces recently invited me to share the "best lunch in town," which also happens to be the name of their club's new charity cookbook.

After a Free Lunch of veggie enchiladas, chicken salad, homemade bread, mini fruit tarts and about a dozen other delectable offerings, the women hurried to put finishing touches on quilts for their semi-annual show in member Nancy Flamm's European-style barn.

Ticket sales two years ago raised $10,000 for programs to help the homeless at the Road Home Shelter. This year, Gone to Pieces is hoping to top that — one stitch at a time.

"Who dreamed that a few women sitting around quilting would turn into something this big?" says Lorraine Day, who started the club 12 years ago as a way to get to know neighbor women who didn't belong to her LDS ward. "Now there's a waiting list to join us. You can only fit so many women in your living room."

Club members take turns hosting the weekly gathering, which resembles an old-fashioned sewing circle like the ones their great-grandmothers used to attend.

"This is what people did before television," says Lorraine, "but of course, they needed the quilts then. I think that today we need more than that ... We need the camaraderie."

The get-together is also a regular counseling session for anybody facing difficult times: wayward teenagers, financial woes, a death in the family ... No subject is off-limits.

"After I went through a divorce, I felt completely lost," says Jan Martin, who didn't know a buttonhole stitch from a basting stitch when she joined the group.

"But every week that I learned how to quilt, I felt more grounded. Everyone was there for me — they made me feel warm and comfortable." Sort of like a handmade quilt, she says.

Another bonus of quilting, says Janet Peterson, is the joy of handing quilts down to children and grandchildren, knowing they'll decorate bedrooms for generations to come.

"They're genuine works of art," she says, showing off an "I Spy" quilt she is sewing for her granddaughter. "Our families feel a connection to us through the quilts we've made for them."

Years from now, even when the quilts are faded and worn, "they'll still bring smiles and memories and keep you warm on a cold night," says Delores Montoya-Taylor. "Each quilt tells a story — they're like a patchwork of our lives."

You just can't say the same about a vintage Corvette.

The "Gone to Pieces" Quilt Show in the Barn will be held Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2520 East Walker Lane. Admission is $5.


Have a story? Let's hear it over lunch. E-mail your name, phone number and what you'd like to talk about to [email protected]. You can also write me at the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.